Since the last 3 years Mr. Nitin Dhawan and Mrs. Jyotika Raisinghani Dhawan run a Foundation called TheOrion.org .Their flagship program ALT ( Awakening Leadership for Teen s) is designed to kindle the desire in our children to make a meaningful social impact around. Also they are running this awakening leadership teens program from December 26th- December 30th 2017.
Womennow recently has the opportunity to interview the founders of TheOrion.org
Tell us about your early years.
We are both born and brought up in Delhi. Nitin schooled in Modern School Barakhamba Road is an Engineer, MBA , I schooled in Frank Anthony School, studied political science from JMC and always wanted to be civil servant. Nitin is dabbled in various entrepreneurships and I have been a Human Resource champion. After working for various years at Airtel, I started Omysha Foundation because life is beyond serving the self.
When did you start TheOrion.org?
It is said- Your life is a message to the world….make sure it’s inspiring! We started The Orion Platform in 2015 with the thought…that you can either make excuses or you can make a difference. After years of corporate innings we believed that this cannot be the reason we exist, there has to be a bigger purpose and hence Orion was born. Initially we worked n various areas in the social sector to bring smiles to the marginalised underprivileged children, the elderly in the old age home and the terminally ill patents.
This later evolved into a platform to develop children’s empathy and involvement to these causes, because it’s only the future generation that can change the landscape of India and hence it became India’s Teen Leadership and Service Learning Platform.
What motivated you to take up the flagship programme ALT (Awakening Leadership for Teen s)?
The motivation to develop Orion’s flagship program was essentially to bring more and more people in the fold of community service activities in India.
In our journey, we realised that there is no dearth of people or resources to support social issues in our society. But usually a structured approach to build sustainable solutions is missing.
What better way to bring about improvements than initiating the children from an early age to social causes and orienting them to build solutions. Through our programs children will not only apply their academic learning, but also build leadership traits.
The fact is it’s the age of the ‘selfie’, but it’s important to think beyond the ‘self’
What is the overall procedure that goes into the entire process of enrolling children who wish to learn participate in the ALT Program?
Parents simply write to [email protected] with a paragraph on why they believe their child should do the ALT program. Or they register on http://theorion.org/register-alt .
We have a brief discussion with the child to evaluate their readiness for the exposure they will get and once selected we schedule them in the next batch , either a full time batch or one that runs alongside their regular school days.
What are the Certified programmes that your organisation provides?
We run 4 certificate programs.
- The ALT Program, Awakening the Children to Social Realities and Issues
- The ESL Program, Engaging the children in a group with social causes, creating social impact
- The Leading Program, Where teenagers pickup a challenging project individually and see that to completion despite adversity
- The Transforming Program, Where a promising individual is identified from the ecosystem and they are supported by the teenagers to create a major social impact
The program exposes children to a host of causes and potential projects in the area of-
Ecology -environment and recycling
Economy -Poverty and employment
Empathy – Old age, Animals and Social Evils
Equality- Inclusiveness, Diversity and Bullying, Body shaming
Epidemiology -Diseases and lifestyle
These activities and sessions help build collective problem solving capabilities, leadership abilities, and imbibe the concept of gratitude, empathy and responsibility. They also start challenging myths and stereotypes and see the micro and macro sides of issues in India.
A very important aspect is also an engagement App wherein each level, tasks and quizzes make you a more involved and responsible citizen
Please tell us something about the work culture of the organisation.
We have a mix of young dynamic interns, psychologists, trainers and some very experienced corporate leaders. It’s an environment where we foster creative ideas at the same time design solutions that deeply impact psyche of children.
Everyone is valued and they all driven by a common vision. There is a lot of freedom for people to express themselves and apply their own working style.
Please share one of your success stories with us.
We have kids who are now in level 2 and have started looking at community service as a way of life and not just an act of kindness. Nandini Wahi , a class 11 student of Shriram Millenium school is an example of someone who went through level 1. Post the program this is what she had to say- A lot has changed, I used to volunteer earlier as well, but his program has showed me how I can make this a permanent part of my life. She went on to do another project in skill building post ALT. She is now an integral part of another of our flagship program- TalenTen where we work with 10 talented slum kids in the area of Vocational training. She is one of the key mentors of the project and manages the same along with her studies. Our own daughter- Nandini is also an example success story as community service is core to her DNA now.
Did you face any challenge in giving shape to TheOrion.org?
Most children find it hard to cope with the academic pressure and their engagement with extracurricular and sports already. To take an engagement which may not have a direct bearing on their competitive scores is very difficult for them.
We realised that if Parents are able to see the importance of this in the development of their child’s value system and personality, and they themselves look at community service as not a choice, but a responsibility, they start to find ways to get the children engaged with Orion, India’s Teen Leadership and Service Learning Platform. And when the children started to share their experiences, this started to catch on with many more.
Which cities does the organisation successfully function in?
We operate in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida now. We plan to launch this in Mumbai, Bangalore & Pune by May 2018.
What are your future plans with regard to the overall functioning of this great project?
We are in the process of building alliances with the schools, – across all Boards IB, IGCSE, Cambridge and even ICSE, CBSE tie up the design with their school rigour and requirements. This way we reach maximum students.
We also are the de facto choice for students planning to study abroad to associate with meaningful service learning projects that gives them an edge for selection through interviews and powerful essays.
And we wish to take this international, so we bring international students for service learning initiatives in India, especially during vacations.
Who do you dedicate your success to?
Our success caused by the innate desire in every student to genuinely make an impact in every project that they do. We also attribute this to our NGO partners, who have been so open and welcoming to our students and have trusted them to provide meaningful solutions.
In what ways can potential donors get in touch with your organisation?
Each project being done by the students requires resources for a successful sustainable solution. Many a times this is in the form of technology and gadgets.
We need access to these technologies and gadgets at a reasonable price. And monetary contribution to these projects is also required. The important thing to understand here is that unlike some other initiatives, these contributions are not meant to be recurring, but help in build solutions that will sustain.
These donations will be managed by our NGO, Omysha Foundation. One can write to [email protected]
You are an inspiration to many. Would you like to share a few words of encouragement for the future generation of activists/philanthropists?
Between all of us there no dearth of resources to help the world. We need to inspire and motivate our biggest resource, the people, to connect with the causes with their heart. Gratitude& empathy are not acts or choices; they need to become a way of life. Our future generation should also start challenging myths and stereotypes and work in both the micro and macro sides of issues in India
We should all focus on building sustainable improvements; build knowledge management around the solutions so that these can be improved over generations. Let’s not treat the donation to social sector as a remorse for our past deeds or lack of contribution. Let’s invest in resources that will amplify the contribution manifold. As Sadhguru said- we need to raise our children to be true contributors to the world. The next generation has to be better than u !…and that’s what we are striving to achieve
We are very happy to collaborate with TheOrion.org that is striving to work for such a noble cause. Womennow wishes them a grand success in all their future endeavors.